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Louisiana to require sex offenders to list crimes on social networks

June 22, 2012|By Laura Huatala
  • A new Louisiana law will require convicted sex offenders to disclose their crimes on social networks they use.
A new Louisiana law will require convicted sex offenders to disclose their… (Joerg Koch / Associated…)

Louisiana lawmakers are trying a new approach to keeping sex offenders and child predators from using social networks to reach new victims.

State Rep. Jeff Thompson sponsored a bill -- recently signed into law -- that will require convicted sex offenders and child predators to disclose their crimes on social networks they use.

But the measure will have little effect on users of the biggest social network in the U.S, Facebook. The site already prohibits registered sex offenders from using the social network.

The Facebook help center provides instructions for reporting sex offenders. According to an explanation from the help center: "Once we are able to verify a user's status as a sex offender, we immediately disable their account and remove their account and all information associated with it."

The only way to use Facebook as a convicted sex offender or child predator would be to omit information about past crimes in the user profile. But Louisiana's new law would make lying about past convictions and using the site a crime carrying penalties of a $1,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison. The law is set to take effect on Aug. 1.

Other popular sites such as Twitter and Tumblr don't reference sex offenders in their terms of service. Like Facebook, both Twitter and Tumblr ban children under 13 from using the service.

Last year, legislators from Louisiana tried unsuccessfully to ban sex offenders from using social networking sites altogether, but that measure was thrown out in February by a federal judge who found it unconstitutionally broad.

The Pelican State currently has laws on the book allowing social networking websites to request all the contact information on record for its convicted sex offenders -- including email addresses and instant-messaging handles -- so that websites can cross reference the information with user profiles.

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